“Why Does He Prefer Porn Over Me?”

Penny FlameThis week’s “Dear Whys Guy” blog features a heartbreaking scenario where the husband would prefer to watch pornography on his phone than have a real sexual encounter with his wife of 22 years. How does a romance go from head over heels in love to utter indifference?

Marnia Robinson and Gary Wilson, the authors of “Cupid’s Poisoned Arrow”, have written an outstanding article in Psychology Today on the debilitating effect of frequent pornography viewing on men. They observed that “recent behavioral addiction research suggests that the loss of libido and performance occur because heavy users are numbing their brain’s normal response to pleasure. Years of overriding the natural limits of libido with intense stimulation desensitize the user’s response to a neurochemical called dopamine.”

Ultimately, continued use of pornography by a man leads to a decreased response to dopamine. This results in declining natural desire and in a cyclical effect, increased need for even more visual stimulation. This insatiable hunger for pornography will increase as the reward for watching it decreases. This is the inevitable downside of addiction.

In addition to this physiological deadening, University of North Carolina Professor Joshua Knobe and his colleagues showed that porn use also changed the way men view women.  Professor Knobe described this effect male porn use had on the way men perceived women as  “animalification-treating a woman as though she lacks the capacity for complex thinking and reasoning, but at the same time, treating her as though she was even more capable of having strong feelings and emotional responses.”

There is little that the wife of  the pornography addict can do to interest her husband. He has used artificial means to go beyond the outer limit of human beings. He is not feeling the ordinary joy he used to experience and he doesn’t even look at her the same way.  The husband must hit bottom,  break the cycle of addiction and allow his natural limited desire and perception of the opposite sex to return before they can together return to a healthy fulfilling sexual relationship as husband and wife.

The wife can use this terrible crisis as an opportunity to re-evaluate the whole marriage from the ground up once the man seeks help. Many men are not finding acceptance in their conventional monogamous relationships. These men are unconnected to their unsuspecting spouse and children and seek a temporary high, connection and escape from reality in pornography, lap dances in Gentlemen’s Clubs, prostitutes or serial adultery.

How did these once ardent paramours end up having to tip toe in at 2AM, shed their clothes into the washer, shower off the stink of cheap perfume from a stripper and slip quietly into bed next to their slumbering spouse? The sad reality for many men is that their conventional relationship was based on inappropriate emotional and physical intimacy and the deception of approval seeking. After the ephemeral high of the honeymoon fades, these men find themselves trapped in a prison of their own device. They enjoy symbolic physical nakedness in each sexual encounter with their wife, but there is no acceptance of their naked self, because these rejection fearing mirage men never give their partner the chance to really know and accept them.

These men will cope with their empty marriage by employing real or virtual women to provide them with the temporal acceptance they find lacking in their steady relationship. It will only last for a few hours before they must flee back into their alternative universe where they live with their wife and children. The next day these mirage men will find themselves just as alone and disconnected as before. This will feed the need to keep seeing the person or website who gives them that high, which will lead from a dalliance to addiction.

Mirage men won’t admit there is a problem in their marriage until it reaches a crisis point or the various addictive coping behaviors that spring up become so blatant they can no longer be ignored. These addictions  will lead to an exaggeration of their character defects. The family will learn to adjust as the mirage man  becomes more and more eccentric, after years of living with no mooring to his true self.  In this Whys Guy blog case, the man is openly watching porn on his phone and tuning out all those around him.  It took a long time for his secret life of addiction to become this outrageous and shameless. We can only hope he will hit bottom and seek help before his wife considers ending the relationship over grounds of emotional abandonment.

Published on November 7, 2011 by J. R. Bruns, M.D. in Repairing Relationships

8 thoughts on ““Why Does He Prefer Porn Over Me?”

  1. Ava! I think you were dating my soon to be ex-husband! You just described our sex life perfectly! That was eerie!

    Thank you, Scott, for the wonderful insight. That does help me with my broken self-esteem issues. My husband was extremely violent in addition to being a porn addict, so the problem was compounded. He hated me and beat me AND had absolutely no desire for me. I had to talk him through it, or he’d lose it. I often told my best friend, “I don’t know why it bothers me so much, it’s only 3 to 7 minutes!” I was very aggressive in that way when we first married. One morning shortly after our wedding he sat up in bed, appearing thoroughly disgusted, and yelled at me, “You’re F—— me to death!” I very quickly went from being a certified nympho to hating sex completely. He, too, was OBSESSED with having someone else join us and even went so far as to bring friends home. I never complied with that and was deemed “frigid” for it. He committed adultery and accidentally admitted to hanging out in strip clubs when he worked out of town. I’ve spent all of these years wondering what was wrong with me. I am so relieved to have some understanding into HIS problem. Thank you!!

  2. Unfortunately, too many people do not see pornography or strip bars as an addiction, or harmful to their relationships.

  3. Oh God.. Here “I” am again. It’s like you’re writing these posts just for me. Scott, I told you today that I had officially ended my joke of a relationship with “him”. Well Saturday night he calls me up because he in town, high-rolling in a 5-star hotel in downtown Dallas. He asked me to drive out. Granted, he changed his mind about 7 or 8 times as to whether or not he wanted me to go.

    Mind you, we’ve been in a highly dysfuctional relationship for a year. I had put him about about a month and half prior to seeing him last weekend so it had been a while since we were actually face-to-face.

    Scott, ok, this guy is supremely beautiful but he losts his hair a while ago. I found him to be ravashing just the way was…but he “hated” himself. With all of his self-preservation and his ability to put his own needs before anyone else’s you’d think he was in love with himself. Hear me when I say that he is absolutely “self-loathing”. When I got to this damn hotel I was morified beyond words.

    Scott, he was wearing a long, blue-black, cheap, 80’s rocker wig. It was the most ridiculous thing I had ever laid eyes on. It looked fake… It was horrendous. But he had a bandana wrapped around his head, sporting his “eyeliner”, and chains. I felt like I was with one of the members of the band Ratt. What “broke” my heart is that I knew that he really hated the way he looked. He’s spent 20 years trying to be in his early 20’s again. The harder he tries to preserve his youth, the more foolish and outlandish he gets.

    OK…we’re up in the hotel room. I’m not trying to get my freak on with him in “any” way. I merely hugged him and gave him a small kiss. He pulled away and told me that this was inappropriate because we were “just friends”. WTF???? For the sake of brevity here, let’s just say, “I handled that”.

    Alright but later he asks if I want to watch some porn with him. I didn’t, but like a puppet who always put his needs ahead of my own I agreed and went into character. Now let me add to this story that man literally has almost NO sex drive. If he “engages” he’s good for a couple of minutes at that. But turn on some porn and the game changes.

    I’ll skip the details and just tell you it was a degrading, awful experience. Scott, I was a stripper at a high-end club in Dallas for 10 years. Mind you, I’m getting a little older now, but for the majority of my adult life, I have made my living off my looks and sexuality. And now not only does this dude not want me….(brace yourself), he is FIXATED on having other people, namely another woman join us while we’re having sex.

    if there were moment of intimacy he ruined each and every one of them by “obsessing” and going on and on and on about having someone else with us. I’m gonna keep it at that, but if you only knew the things he said and did…or “didn’t do.”

    I left him there at the hotel that night. I felt like a trick walking out of that place by myself. I felt dirty and violated by the man I loved. It was trecherous. I am the most sexual, affectionate woman in the United States of America. Why does every other man wanna conquer me and the man I loved want nothing to do with me. Ugh… sorry for the rant, but you hit a nerve on that one. And believe you me, I was totally holding back.

    Thanks for listening and not collecting a co-pay from me. LOL! But know that I think you’re the bomb!

    -Ava

  4. And there is also the problem of having to deal with a real person who has needs and feelings and sees you as you are, including your flaws and vulnerability. Some people don’t want that. They want to see themselves as they imagine they are. The lack of acceptance starts from within the self. What he wants is adoration, not acceptance.

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